Richard Gere and his girlfriend believe they have known each other "over the course of many lives".

Richard Gere and Alejandra Silva

Richard Gere and Alejandra Silva

The 'Pretty Woman' actor - who is a practising Buddhist and believes in reincarnation - is smitten with 33-year-old Alejandra Silva, and they first met when she was a "little girl" and the 67-year-old star borrowed a boat from her businessman father, Ignacio Silva.

Alejandra reconnected with Richard a few years ago in Positasno, Italy, where she was running a luxury hotel.

She recalled: "Richard has known my family for 15 years. He asked to borrow my dad's boat to shoot a commercial he was going to be in when I was just a little girl.

"When I saw him again in Positano, I reminded him of the story.

"Our karma brought us together as soon as we saw each other because we've known each other over the course of many lives - that's how we both feel anyway."

Alejandra - who has a three-year-old son, Albert, from a past relationship - is based in Madrid while Richard lives in the US but they have never spent more than 20 days apart.

And though they are very happy together, the businesswoman admitted she had reservations about getting together with the actor, who has a 16-year-old son, Homer, from his marriage to Carey Lowell.

She told HELLO! magazine: "Knowing him has given my life meaning. Of course I had some misgivings ... Everyone can see there's an age difference, and everyone knows what it means to be a Hollywood star, but there is such a big karmic force, the problems disappear."

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